December 9, 2011
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Situations Matter
Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World by Sam Sommers, Riverhead, 304 pages, $25.95, Hardcover, December 2011, ISBN 9781594488184
It is raining out, and you are in a rush. You back into the only open parallel parking space you can find on your third trip around the block. You misjudge the distance between your bumper and that of the car behind you. You nudge the other car, but think little of it because, after all, that is what bumpers are for. You finish parking, get out of your car, and make a dash toward the store. To your surprise, the owner of the vehicle, who was still behind the wheel, chases after you, says you damaged her car, demands restitution. What do you do?
Sam Sommers, author of Situations Matter, would tell you it depends. What kind of day did you have at work that day? Is there anyone witnessing your interaction? Are you a man or a woman? Our emotions and personalities change within very complex, high-demand, and high-stress situations. Often, the times we’re really called to the test, when we need to be thinking, deciding, and reacting with the best of our ability, we give in to elements within (and outside of) the situation and instead show our weaknesses. While this may seem obvious, Sommers’ book will show you why you do what you do.
As the book’s prologue states:
This book will take you down a less-traveled, often surprising, and sometimes disconcerting road of human experience, refocusing your attention on the ordinary situations that have extraordinary effects on how we think and act. Research shows us that the context impacts even the most intimate aspects of our lives, and this conclusion offers to those who embrace it insight as well as competitive advantage.
Although, as Sommers asserts, this isn’t a self-help book, with this insight into human nature, we might be able to think about situational factors in advance, and mold our reaction to them, or even control their occurrence, before we do or say something we wish we’d done differently in hindsight.
As much Seinfeld as science, Situations Matter is a great book to start a new year on, when we look to make improvements in our lives, our work, and our treatment of those around us.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.